Day Thirty, final day.
I started the day with another run with Becca, we have been running in the park together regularly for just over a year but recently, Becca has had an injury which has stopped us temporarily. I have secretly been worried that I might not be able to cope with the extra exercise on top of all the cycling and how hungry running usually makes me, but I don’t seem to have had an negative effects from the run on Wednesday or Friday. The buckets were still full so again I used a jug and today, my last day of rationing I used just 4 litres of hot for a good wash.
I dropped in to have breakfast with my friend Su and ate porridge in her garden in the sunshine. We don’t have scales at home and I thought I would see how much weight I have lost as a result of rationing, and its in the region of three quarters of a stone which is quite drastic. Obviously the developing world doesn’t have an obesity problem which we clearly wouldn’t have here either if we were rationed to the extent of Ration Me Up which stops you eating processed food, so much dairy and meat. I left Su’s and cycled over to Camberwell to pick up something from the sorting office which has moved from Herne Hill. I’m not sure how people manage to get there without a bike or a car. Its crazy that the local sorting office should be so very very far off being local.
I was working from home today so was able to flush with bathwater. I met up with Graham and Rachid in Brockwell Park for lunch and had chips and veg which was tastier than anything I have had in the Cafe for ages; I’m not a fan of their food, but on a sunny day, its the best place to sit and eat. Went to Herne Hill Oxfam to buy washing powder and bought some trousers, anything second hand is ration free.
I cooked split yellow peas again in the pressure cooker, with chillies this time. I’m looking forward to being able to eat rice or pasta again instead of potatoes with almost every meal. I was going to write the blog last night, but again, I fell asleep putting Haroun to bed, but this time didn’t wake up until half past 10 and just went straight to bed. Very energy saving, no TV, computer, radio temptations.
I’ve actually not missed TV or watching DVD’s at all. Apart from the little bit at my brothers over Easter where It wasn’t my choice I’ve not been remotely tempted. I was brought up in a household without a TV and we only have a portable one borrowed when Haroun was born and never returned. It’s too old to connect to a livebox, and moves in and out of the living room depending on what’s going on, so its not a permanent fixture sitting in the corner of room with a remote control and watching it requires a bit of bother. I’ve really missed the radio and music, so this morning, my first day after rationing I switched it on, only to switch it off as it seemed pointless as Haroun was making so much noise in our bed playing rough games. It was on in the kitchen later, but when I left the room, I switched it off. Previously I would have left it on while going in and out of the room. I have made all sorts of changes to my habits which I think I’ll be happy to stick with. I’ve done all washing up today in the same way, cold water, just using a tiny amount, I’ve watered the plants in the garden and the the window boxes with the dirty washing up water, maybe when I’m rushing off to work I won’t do this, but if not, why not? Some of the things I have done during this period have been marginally more time consuming, brushing the carpet for one, filling up buckets and moving them from room to room, but I spend less time in the bath room washing, and have spare time from not watching TV or wasting time on the internet. I’ve definitely spent less times sitting in cafes drinking coffee and eating cake. The flat is cleaner than before, because I’m re-using water and have to do something with it. Its just requires a bit more thought, organisation and putting up with the very mild inconvenience of buckets of water in our small bathroom. I have stopped running the tap without either a carton, a cup, a pan or a bucket underneath or at the very least the plug in. Rather than automatically turning the tap to wash my hands, I reach for the margarine tub and scoop out some old water from a bucket and pour it over them. I see no reason why not to continue with this. I only wish we could get a water meter.
I have been really rigourous with this experiment and quite honestly, its really, really achieveable. if you are prepared to operate locally, walk, cycle and use public transport sparingly. If you want to drive everywhere, you won’t be able to make it. If you have a problem with narrowing down your diet to just eating local produce (which in the winter is fairly limited) you won’t be able to make it either. Eating meat and cheese every day is out of the question, but when in history has there ever been a period where ordinary people did things like eat meat and cheese everyday? Doing this has just kept on reinforcing to me, over and over again, how much we have in this country in terms of choice and easy access to all kinds of resources. I could easily carry on, but its hard when no one else around you is doing it. Its hard to being so altruistic that you severely limit your use of resources knowing that the majority people are not considering changing their habits in any way or think that its their god given right to consume whatever they want whenever they want it. I did check my bank balance yesterday, and I have probably about 300 quid left of my wages more than I usually would at this point in the month which is incredible. I don’t earn a huge amount, its enough to live on comfortably, mainly because our housing costs are low and we don’t run a car (I have a part time teaching salary and the odd bit of freelance work) but clearly, I’m spending about £300 a month on luxuries that I wasn’t even aware of. That is eating out, random shopping, snacks while out and about, takeaway coffees, who knows what else.
This month was a fairly crazy month to choose to do this as I had two long distance trips planned, Haroun’s birthday and Easter. Without so much travel I would have definitely eaten more food, had some meat even. If this rationing were in place all the time you wouldn’t consider travelling so much, it would be out of the question, we would eat less, use water sparingly and we would be living our lives much more in line with the rest of the world.
Here is the breakdown of how I have used my 40 rations.
20 for travel
2 for the fridge
5 rations for non seasonal food, including the odd bit of cheese/butter (almost none)
1 for drinking and cooking water
1 for lighting our flat (all but 1 energy saving bulbs) don’t leave lights on any more apart from outside Haroun’s bedroom at night.
1 for heating our flat (hardly on at all, used lots of blankets)
1 for flushing loo, thats 14 full flushes and 16 economy flushes, and lots of leaving the flush until really needed, sharing flushes and using bath water.
1 for potatoes, I’ve eaten about 8 kilos to myself,
1 ration for milk (this has been very hard but helped by reduction of tea drinking, using Haroun’s leftovers and making porridge with water.) If I did this long term I would have to have some calcium substitute.
1 ration (just under actually) for bread
1 ration for computer (writing the bloody blog)
1 dishwasher bit of TV while staying at my brothers.
1/2 ration for washing dishes and vegetables, always cold so no need to use an energy ration there
1/2 ration for Eggs (7 in the month, including 2 egg share for haroun’s birthday cake)
1/2 ration internet (uploading bloody blog)
1/3 for boiling kettle, I boiled a whole kettle only 14 times, and had 28 cups of tea away from home or when Rizwan has made a pot which i reckon is equivalent to 7 whole kettles full (60 kettle’s full is 1 ration)
1/3 ration for washing myself and my teeth and hand I have used only 83 litres of warm water (60 litres a week would make one ration) This has been helped by using my parents bath water when I have been with them, and using old bath water to wash my hands with.
1/3 ration for heating washing water.
1/4 washing machine water
1/4 washing machine energy
That leaves one ration that I am lumping lots of little things in like
1 use of toaster (30 = 1 ration), 2 mintues in microwave at work (10 mins a day = 1 ration), 10 minutes hoover (1 hour a week = 1 ration) 100 grammes of sugar for porridge, mobile phone charge, sewing machine and charging camera battery once.
There are all sorts of things that are missed off the ration book, but its a art project, not a government directive and it reminds you in a pretty clear way that there is virtually nothing you do that doesn’t have some kind of carbon implication and encourages you to celebrate the things that don’t.
By the way, I now switch off the computer, take out the plug and switch off the modem when I’m finished. Good night.
Day Twenty Nine
Used Mum and Dad’s bathwater, and kept rest in bath and buckets for flushing loo and watering garden. I haven’t got any more floors to clean. Rizwan and I have decided to sort out a water butt to keep bathroom water in and another for rainwater if there is space. Watered the window boxes with left over washing up water. The pansies seem to be thriving on dregs of porridge in their soil. l cycled to work in the sunshine. Spent more time in the office so had two hot drinks today. Got a load of stick from my colleagues Klaus and Paul running after Jo when she went to the loo so I could share a flush with her. I had a tutorial with a third year student who was very encouraging about Ration Me Up, she also told me that her mother has taken her self off the national grid and has stickers up all over her home asking if you really need to switch on this light. I took my own lunch – last nights split yellow peas added to a portion of canteen potatoes. I’d like to think that I’ll carry on taking my lunch in but requires a certain level of organisation that I might not be up to long term… it would save me about a tenner a week, and the canteen food isn’t great.
I have been using my Mooncup this week, its the most brilliant alternative to tampons/sanitary towels. You buy one, and use it for life. I’ve know about them for years but only got round to buying one last year and wish I had done so years ago, its already paid for itself and I feel incredibly pleased with myself that I’m no longer regularly contributing these rather unpleasant items to landfill/sewage system. I have told some of my sensible female students who I didn’t think would be squeamish about the idea, or disturbed by the idea of their tutor sharing this kind of thing with them and they are now using them and telling all their friends. I wish when I was in my 20’s I’d been told about them; I’d have saved an absolute fortune. I got mine from Fareshares, £7 cheaper than in Boots.
Dropped in to Fareshares on the way home to restock on porridge and parsnips. Tricia and I had a chat about the Indian style alternative to using loo paper which we both learnt about travelling in India. This is the method that Rizwan was brought up with and consequently, we get through very little loo paper in this home. Tricia and I started to imagine what would happen if the vaste majority of the world who doesn’t use loo paper suddenly started to. There wouldn’t be a single tree left. This is not your regular shopping chit chat, but then Fareshares isn’t your regular shop.
When I got home, Rizwan had fried up the remains of last nights bubble and squeak for me,and I had the very last bit of the split peas. Haroun and I went out into the garden to water the plants with bathwater. He stepped in some kind of poo, so his feet got a scrub in the remains of Mum and Dad’s bath. Thames Water visited today to see if we can have a water meter fitted. Apparently we can’t, which I’m really gutted about, as I know how much water I’m going to save in the future and was looking forward to the financial benefit of this. Talking of financial benefit, I’m going to check my bank balance tomorrow, my last day of the Ration Book (for now anyway) and see how much money I have saved. I have a feeling its going to be loads, as my food shopping has been unbelivably frugal, I haven’t been drinking endless milky coffess and snacking, not a single bar of chocolate or bag of crisps has passed my lips, all presents have been home made and apart from a £3 pair of cheap sunglasses I bought at the seaside before I realised what I was doing, I don’t think I’ve bought anything.
Day Twenty Eight
Rizwan wanted to use the shower this morning without the bath ankle deep in cold soapy water, so I spent the first few minutes of the day ferrying cold water in buckets up and down the stairs to water the garden, two buckets and a large jug left in bathroom to use later.
was listening this morning to the radio, a tiny battery operated transistor radio, I don’t think it has ever run out of batteries the 2 years we have had it and those are I went for a run round Brockwell Park with Becca next door and needed a wash afterwards, but all our buckets were full, so I used a plastic jug, using only about 5 litres worth. After I dropped Haroun off at school I had an hour spare so washed the kitchen and bathroom floors with his leftover bath water. I can safely say, I have never washed any kitchen floor twice in one month apart from when I have had cleaning jobs. Of course, it was easy this time round as it wasn’t disgustingly dirty to start with, so a lasting effect of this experiment may be that the floors in the flat are cleaner than ever before, and I’ll be using 2nd hand water while I’m at it. I soaked some split yellow peas for later. I bought these at fareshares at the beginning of this month, as they are the only pulse they sell that is grown in the UK. Rizwan was listening this morning to the radio, a tiny battery operated transistor radio, I don’t think it has ever run out of batteries the 2 years we have had it and those are rechargeable. I can’t believe that the energy used in making and running this can be anywhere near the energy used by our much larger digital Roberts Radio. I do question some of the calculations involved in the ration book, but I am accepting them for the sake of this. When all analogue TV’s and radios are scrapped whenever the switch over date is planned, I hope that someone is going to do an environmental audit of the costs of replacing analogue equipment, the implication of disposing of all these millions of TVs and radios and how much more power is going to be drawn running them and wave this in the face of the people responsible for making the decision.
My parents were due to stay for a couple of nights to help Rizwan out while I was in Abu Dhabi and I asked them to come for one night, after the job was cancelled as a consolation. I cycled to meet them at Tate Britain to see the fantastic Henry Moore Exhibition I really have run out of rations so now have to cycle everywhere, but it only took me 25 minutes door to door, much, much quicker than bus or train. The carbon rationing business is a whole heap easier in the sunshine. I took them into the exhibition, and Dad bought us lunch. It really was impossible to eat anything in the café, so I had one fishcake (mainly potato, some salmon although allegedly salmon and haddock, and not close to worth the 7.10 he paid for it). I’m still waiting via Clare to hear from the New Economic Foundation about fish. I didn’t have the lettuce, as this is not yet in season here so got a kids pot of carrot sticks as a substitute. Luckily they are used to me being such a born again faddy eater. After a run and cycle ride, I was really really hungry. I’ve been noticing lately that I’m getting quite dizzy if I get up too quickly after bending down to chat to Haroun or get off the floor. I’m not sure if this is hunger or old age. Any way, I am going to add what I ate today to the two pasta meals I’ve had in the month to make up one ration of non-seasonal.
I got back to Herne HIll a good 15 minutes ahead of my parents who took the bus that drops them outside our door.
I cooked the split peas with veg in the pressure cooker which took 10 minutes and were delicious. I’m now kicking myself that its taken so long to get round to cooking them, they are really filling, and nutritious. More bubble and squeak using up half a shrivelled old cabbage , bringing it back to life. In a former life, I would have chucked it into the compost bin.
Day Twenty Seven
I’m really missing the radio and music, but as I’m writing this, I’ve heard an aeroplane passing overhead for the first time, so that’s news in itself. We seem to be right under the flight path.
I used 8 litres of water this morning for my wash. The rocket seeds have come up already.
I cycled to work. If I set off from school promptly, I can get to work just slightly before I would were I to take the train. On such a lovely day, its just not worth going any other way. Normally when we are in the office we drink endless cups of tea and coffee, but we were assessing students in a room where we are not allowed to take cups so I got away with just drinking water today. I took a thermos of last nights soup with me so I wouldn’t get forced into a heavy ration situation in the college canteen like last time. By the time it got to lunch time the soup was tepid, so a fairly miserable lunch experience, but probably better than what was on offer there. I haven’t seen my colleagues for 3 weeks and they are all shocked that I’ve shrunk. I resisted the customary post lunch cake/bar of chocolate. I forgot the time and only just left in time to pick Haroun up from school. Had I taken the train, I would probably have been late. We met Rebecca and Josie in the park after school and Rebecca brought me the most fantastic looking Easter Egg as she’s feeling sorry I missed out this year. I’ve only got a few days to go, but not sure If I’ll be able to keep Rizwan at bay. While Haroun and I were in Norwich, he ate ALL of the Egg my parents gave Haroun.
I grilled a lamb chop for Haroun’s supper tonight, I cut the meat off the bone for him and then found myself gnawing at the remains like an animal. We had the last of his birthday cake this evening….I can eat as much of that as I want as I have accounted for all the food for his party. Haroun had a bath tonight so i have a good stock of water now in buckets for washing the flat and floors tomorrow morning as I will have a spare hour. We had a huge pile of roasted root veg this evening which was very tasty but I know I’ll be hungry by morning.
Day Twenty Six
Cup of tea in bed, felt like wonderful luxury. Porridge with leftover milk again, I’m sorry I’ve only just hit on this idea, I could have had more milk in other things, also, I’ve stopped using sugar now I’ve got into apple porridge.
I was really hungry this morning, but Haroun was ready for his second breakfast by the time I sat down to eat so he had half of it. I didn’t bother washing this morning, apart from teeth.
Did our third clothes wash this month, and won’t need to do another one now for a week. Even though we’re not frequent washers, I have definitely used clothes more than normal and don’t see why I shouldn’t carry on with this after the month is up. I have been thinking I’ve done so well with this that I think I might have a little bit of a ration spare(used 1/4 ration), but as I looked at the book realised I’ve actually forgotten to account for washing machine use in both the water and the energy categories. There seems to be a discrepancy in the water page saying two things, you can use the machine 21 times or you can use it 4 times, so I’m not sure what to do. Did a huge mountain of party washing up (the half that Rizwan hadn’t already done) using only a half a sink full of water.
Haroun wanted to go the the British Museum for his birthday treat to see the Mummies, and as I think I have run out of rations we went by bike. I don’t normally take him right into town on the big bike, but armed with the London cycle routes map,worked out a great route that kept us off main roads and took us down roads I’d never seen before. Rizwan took me and Haroun out for lunch, for both our birthday treats and I don’t know if to count this or not, if I do, I didn’t eat much, I shared a margarita pizza (not dripping with cheese) with Haroun and he ended up eating more than half of it, plus roast potatoes and spinach. We shared an ice cream and I was too cautious to have alcohol while cycling Haroun through town. After the British Museum we cycled on to Hamleys to get the Handcuffs he desperately wanted (Rizwan’s present) but they didn’t have any. He was pretty cool about this, but I nearly cried. There isn’t a bike rack to be seen anywhere near Hamleys. Now theres a hideous vision of excess. There is an almost full sized toy camel going for £1,500. People were leaving with huge bags, heaving with toys. Haroun left clutching a £1.50 candy cane, and bless him, not complaining, I was the one grumbling. We stopped to check out the Pelicans in St. James’ park.
We all sat under a blanket this evening on the sofa, reading books, its surprisingly cold.
Rizwan made me carrot soup with the uneaten carrot sticks leftover from the party. My appetite has most definitely shrunk, as have I. I have been wearing an old pair of cords today that I haven’t been able to wear for at least 10 years. My brilliant neighbour Becca came over this evening with the best pair of heavy metal handcuffs I have ever seen, with two keys. She says they have been knocking around their flat for ages, I can’t wait to Haroun’s face in the morning.
The cloud of Volcanic ash has saved me from my fuel guzzling self. The trip to Abu Dhabi is off. This is a real anti climax, we’ve worked really hard to get everything ready, especially Dot, so its back to normal work for me in the morning. The Easter Holidays are over.
Day twenty five
Cup of tea this morning apple porridge and sieved second hand milk again, just part of the routine now. Rizwan had music playing a fair bit today getting ready, so I’m not sure whether to account for this.
I brushed the whole of the downstairs with the hard brush again, and the flat looks spotless. Rizwan got back from a run, got the hoover out and to my annoyance, did most of it again. I got all the food ready for the party and apart from the crisps and jelly, every thing was home made and ready before everyone arrives so I have enough time for a quick bucket wash, 9 litres today including hair wash, leaving enough for teeth etc…. except Rizwan empties the bucket down the sink which feels as if he’s thrown something very precious away, I’m beginning to realise actually that’s exactly what it is. We manage to have a party without any crap plastic toys. I made the jellies in plastic glasses that get washed up, the kids eat with their fingers or real cutlery and no disposable plates or cups. This year, we have decided not to do party bags, not because of the rationing, they just seem like a bit of party overkill, surely the games, food and the party itself is more than enough….everyone gets a pink coconut mouse as a going home present, tails courtesy of that old devil Sainsbury. While the parcel is being passed wrapped in next door’s newspapers, a chocolate heart in between each layer, Leigh and I wonder when the days of just a parcel, randomly stopping with 1 present in the middle changed. I really enjoyed the party, it was such a beautiful day so we spent most of it in the garden, and I hope people left not feeling like they’d been subjected to war time rationing. I finally got Haroun to bed late, and went down to start clearing up, and toasted the left over sandwiches, which is something my mum always used to do with sandwiches left over from journeys and picnics, the tomato ones never worked, far too soggy, but we didn’t have tomatoes as there aren’t any growing in this country yet!
Day Twenty Four
Sieved the milk out of Haroun’s cereal again through the tea strainer.
Wrote a big long list of what was needed for Haroun’s birthday party and headed off to shop. I really didn’t want to go to Sainsburys, but headed there as I didn’t have the time to schlep from shop to shop to get everything on the list, so I got on the bike with two panniers. I discovered a brilliant cycle path from fairly near us all the way to the back of the Sainsbury’s on dog Kennel Lane which was very satisfying. I really hate supermarkets, and feel very fortunate to live in a place where its not necessary to use them. This is my first trip to one since I started Ration Me Up, but I rarely go. I used to go to the small local one to buy organic milk, but since the best local shop in the world started stocking it, i don’t go any more. The best local shop in the world by the way is Andrews Foodstore on Rosendale Road. I think anyone who lives here would agree with me that to have them on the doorstep adds to the quality of your life, they stock almost everything, have a really amazing selection of fresh fruit and veg and are such incredibly friendly people. Between them, Peckham or Brixton farmer’s markets and fareshares, I’m covered for all I need.
As I drew up to the car park, my hackles immediately rose. Car parking for thousands of bloody cars and 21 cycle racks, not that many people were using them. Allowing supermarkets to use so much space for parking cars in the city is criminal to me on many levels, and renders all other shops trying to survive without this unnecessary luxury completely uncompetitive. I was tempted to turn round and go somewhere else but had so much to do so locked up the bike, which at least I could do right by the entrance. I find a trip to the supermarket a sickening experience, overwhelming bright lights, freezing cold, the constant bleep bleep bleep of items being scanned. Even if there was only a 1p mark up on everything (which of course there isn’t) they’d make a fortune. The packaging overwhelms me too, aisle after aisle of packaged products, shelves being emptied and filled day after day. where does it all go? And all that bottled water really gets to me. We’re so lucky to live in a country where we have clean water on tap, so what is all this drinking water thats been sitting around for months in plastic bottles all about? Anyway, I didn’t stray from my list apart from buying some 100% recycled aluminium foil. I managed to only buy fruit and veg, sugar and flour grown in the UK and get everything on the list down to the sweet shoelaces for making tails for coconut mice which at least made the trip worthwhile. My panniers were so stuffed that I struggled to cycle with such a weight on the back and wobbled out of the car-park. There were two other cyclists loading up when I left; its amazing how much you can get on a bike.
I added up the rations in the shopping, and they come to just under 9, so if I divide that by 3, as I’m only one third of this family, I will have to put 3 more ration stickers in the back of my book and I must now be up to my 40. I spent the rest of the day, preparing food. Seeing as I am putting these rations in the book I can eat anything I’m making, but when it comes down to it, i’m not really bothered. I finish off the batman suit and also the Jolly Roger.
Day Twenty Three
I woke up this morning and one of the first things Haroun said was, “I can read your mind, I guess you are going to have porridge for breakfast this morning.”
I did, but I made a deluxe version with cut up Bramley apple in it, no sugar. There was quite a lot of milk left in Haroun’s cereal bowl, so I sieved out the dregs of bran flakes and used the milk in my porridge. I also reused the bowl to save on washing up. I’m getting used to not having a cup of tea every morning now.
The rug in the sitting room was free from toys for the first time in ages so I got the hard brush out and had a good scrub. It was truly filthy and also covered in tiny bits of black cotton fluff from cutting up mum’s trousers. There was such a horrible pile of dust that I didn’t want to have to brush all the way through the flat, so I got the hoover out ( the first time this month) and used it for about a minute to suck up the pile, maybe I’ll put that towards a miscellaneous use of electrical goods ration, such as the one use of the toaster last night, charging mobile phones, sewing machine, (still need an answer from the Ministry). Again, I needed a wash after the physical exertion of using a hard brush. Carpet looks lovely. Another 6 litres including hair wash, enough left for teeth etc.
I was working with Dot and Keirion, at her flat today, preparing for Womad (thats the reason why I am going to Abu Dhabi, even though with the volcanic ash, we might not make it.) I cycled over to Brockley with Haroun who played with Tyler all day while we worked. Dot insisted on putting the radio on, but seeing as I was working, and she really did insist so we could keep up with the news about flights, I’m not going to count it for rationing.
We went to the cafe for lunch and I had one of my weirdest rationing lunches yet…..Bubble and Squeak, chips, onions, a fried egg and pickled beetroot.
We worked late and Andy, made us all some food which was delicious, pasta with tuna and olives but will have to go into the list of non-seasonal/imported food, which added to the pasta I ate last weekend in Norwich, I”m nearly up to another ration. I think I might be down to just 4 to spare for Haroun’s party and the rest of the week. I have decided to suspend this while we are away, it seems pointless. I imagine that in Abu Dhabi, I’ll be using 40 rations in 5 days, everything is imported, even the labour force and 24 hour air conditioning. John from Gravesend said that if the the whole world consumed at the rate we do in this county we’d need 3 planets, the rate the Americans consume its 6 planets and United Arab Emirates, about 8 planets. Currently the world combined uses 1.3 planets worth of resources which gives you an idea of how bloody selfish we all are. What with me virtually measuring water with a tea spoon, it seems mad to go to probably the highest carbon guzzling country in the world. Doing it in the same month as trying to live with with my fare share of the world’s resources is frankly embarrassing. Keirion has made me promise not to go on about rations while we are away.
Batman suit all evening, all finished apart from sewing on two hooks, I’m embarking on a huge pirate flag using a leftover from our Womad materials which had already been something else and making the skull and crossbones from the ripped back of our duvet which I replaced and kept for rags, and the remains of Mum’s trousers!
Rizwan can’t stop himself from going on and on and on about me visiting a benign dictatorship.
Day Twenty Two
I started the day with another huge bowl of porridge.
Yet again, I ummed and ahhed about whether to take the bike or go by train as I had to drop Haroun off with Rebecca, then drop a tape off for work in Kings Cross, then go on to Clapham Common and then back to Brixton by 2pm, it all seemed a bit exhausting but the sunny day made my mind up for me. As I cycled over Blackfriars Bridge on the wonderfully wide dedicated cycle lane I knew I’d made the best decision. Two hours after dropping Haroun off, I was sitting in the sun with a cup of tea in the Café on Clapham Common. Cycling through town on a sunny day is so full of rewards, and I just think how much you miss going underground. I alsappy to save on the cost of a travel card.
I got back to Rebecca’s flat, starving. They had a big plate of baked potatoes left after lunch, so I had a couple of them, a grated carrot salad and a pint of water. While the kids did their thing, we sat in their freezing cold kitchen, wrapped in blankets and chatting, until it was time to feed the kids again. I had another baked potato. Haroun had a bath there before we left and I couldn’t help thinking what a waste of all that bath water, sending it down the plug hole.
I have been thinking all month about a book written by Moyra Bremner my school friend Siobhan’s mum in the 1970’s called Supertips to make life easy. It had a picture of her looking very beautiful on the front in a purple evening dress and rubber gloves I think. I seem to remember its stuffed full of ideas that could help me out now. Tonight, my Friend Tessa rang up on her way to a Transition Town meeting and she tried to get me to guess who was very invovled, I couldn’t, so she told me it was Moyra. Its such a coincidence that I have to mention it.
I spent the whole evening making the Batman suit which is now being made out of Mum’s trousers for the cape, my old pair of exercise trousers from when I was pregnant, an ancient t shirt of mine and the black pants bit off his old batman pyjamas. At about half past 11, I was starving and found Rizwan in the Kitchen snacking on bread and cheese, my will snapped and I had 2 slices of toast with I image ammounts to one 6th of a ration of cheese(still no butter) As I uploaded the previous days blog, I checked my e-mails and got one from a student who can’t get back to England in time for a class because her flight has been cancelled due to the dust from the volcano. I didn’t have a clue what she was on about, I’m quite enjoying how cut off I am without the radio and TV, its a bit like being on holiday.
Week three Tally
Used a whole ration on travel in Norwich and also about a third on non-seasonal/imported food.
I’m on target roughly for the following
1/2 ration for Internet
1 Ration for the loo flush(might be a bit under)
1 ration for Milk
1 ration for potatoes
1 ration for heating
1 ration for PC
1/2 ration for bathing, brushing teeth and hand washing
1/2 Energy to heat washing water
1/2 ration Hot drinks, this may go up to a whole one
1/2 ration for eggs
1/2 ration for dish washing and veg washing
1/3 ration washing machine
1 ration for bread, and butter and sugar.
this leaves me 4 rations for the final week which will include Haroun’s birthday party, lots of ration heavy things for cakes and party food.
Day Twenty One
Haroun wanted me to take him and Josie to the Imperial War Museum today, and I did consider taking them both on the bike, but it would have involved a lot of pushing and going on the pavements seeing as one of them has to sit on the back rack holding my seat so we took the short bus ride to Kennington instead (5 1/5 kms – 1/3 of a ration)
Its hard to save water when you’re out and about. In the 4 hours we were there, we had to take 2 trips to the loo, so even though we all went in the same cubicle that was still 2 flushes I need to count, same with hand washing. I’m now used to scooping up water with a flora tub from a bucket of old bath water and pouring it over my hands in my very miserly way and hate having to use the kind of tap you can’t control.
There was bugger all in the fridge this morning to make a picnic so I treated us to lunch in the cafe there which is half run on war time rations which made my lunch choice easy. I had a very watery beetroot and cabbage soup, small portion and not very nice, and mashed root vegetables, small portion but very nice. I was still hungry afterwards and when Josie didn’t eat all her macaroni cheese, I was happy to help her out. I don’t count that towards my rations, as if I hadn’t eaten it, it would have gone in the bin. There were some fairly dodgy recipe ideas on the canteen trays, how about his one for Carrot Fudge, I liked the sound of it, thinking it might be a bit like the Indian Sweet Carrot Halwa, not a bit of it…….
Ingredients: Carrots, Gelatine, Orange essence
Method: finely grate carrots and cook four tablespoons full in just enough water to cover for 10 minutes. Add flavouring with orange essence, grated orange rind or orange squash/cordial. Melt a leaf of gelatine. Add gelatine to mixture. Cook quickly for a few minutes stirring all the time. spoon into a flat dish. Leave to set. Cut into cubes.
We watched some old war time propaganda films about agriculture, rationing and the docks; fighting the war at home. They really reinforced the war time spirit of co operation and “pulling together” that my parents and grandparents used to talk about. I’m not sure what it would take to get a similar cooperative effort and resources sharing going again.
Faced with a bowl of cold mashed potato in the fridge, I remembered one of the recipes in Leftovers for Tomorrow, and made bubble and squeak to have with yesterdays soup. It was delicious.
Haroun’s batman outfit coming along nicely. Rizwan has been complaining about the water in the buckets in the bath room smelling.
Rizwan went out early to the shops and brought back a big bag of bagels. I gritted my teeth and ate my porridge while I watched him slicing cheese onto a bagel. Haroun had a couple of bites and put his back in the bag. I filled up the thermos with hot water as I anticipated spending lots of time at home today. Rizwan had the radio on this morning and wasn’t going to switch it off for me, and i had to endure William Hague’s irritating voice, wittering on about giving parents the power to set up schools. I realised how I’ve been missing out on the endless gearing up for the election, and what a relief that is. The minute he left the room, I switched if off. I suppose I’ll have to claim a 50% share of half an hour of radio. I could have left the room, but it wouldn’t have stopped it being on.
We’ve had Haroun’s friend Josie with us all day and so we’ve spent most of the time in the garden or in the park. The kids and I planted an old window box with rocket seeds. For lunch I had a huge pile of salad, veg and the remains of the day before yesterdays chicken and leek soup. Jawad came round to pick up our portable 78 player and records to take to the park for his daughter Rahima’s birthday party. We followed on. Children’s party spread is a really tough one for me, all those little bits and snacks within my grasp…I had some carrot sticks, and nearly an apple until I read they were from Argentina. I went home to make up a thermos of tea for the adults, hot water there already. While I was in the kitchen, I saw Haroun’s unfinished bagel lying in a bag among the apples, I took an apple and then tore a tiny bit of the bagel and within seconds I’d scoffed the lot.
While we were clearing up Rahima’s party Jawad asked if I was going to write dissaprovingly about the party food, it hadn’t occurred to me. He and Zaineb, carefully collected all the recylable stuff in a bag to take home and it was a really relaxed afternoon listening to 78’s.
The kids (joined by Josie’s brother Sam) had a bubble bath so there is plenty of water to clean with tomorrow and flush loos etc.
I’m feeling a bit souped out, I’ve just made a pressure cooker full of Celeriac and Apple soup and am about to start on Batman outfit. Zoe sent me a link to this global community animation.
As my parents were here, I ended up using their bath water to wash in. Even though it was the norm doing this growing up, I haven’t done this as an adult until now and actually don’t have a problem with it. Once this month is over, there are definitely things I will continue with and saving water will be one of them.
We were out of the house for most of the day, a long lunch time in the pub, celebrating Dot’s birthday, I had a half of bitter brewed in Sussex and all I could see on the menu that wouldn’t take up an entire ration was chips and seasonal veg. A few minutes later, the waitress owned up that didn’t actually have any so I got my money back and she brought me double chips to compensate. In the pub loos I washed my hands with the press tap, and was unused to how long those taps actually go on for, and it was automatically hot, after all these days of minimal water use, so much warm water felt like a real luxury, I savoured every drop of it until it stopped.
We spent most of the afternoon in the park, moving from table to table to catch the sun. Haroun and I got home late and were both freezing so we sat under a blanket and watched a DVD. We’ve used virtually nothing today so I’m not worried about a quick blast of Kung Fu Panda. The same chicken and leek soup from last night.
I got a text from John in Gravesend today (day 4) about his carbon reduction project he’s been managing at Bailey Garner where he works, “We have refurbished a large Victorian house and will be doing 14 smaller properties, some empty and some occupied. We are monitoring everything to find out what makes the most cost effective carbon reductions. We achieved a reduction of 84 percent on our house”
Started the day by filling up the washing machine with mine and Haroun clothes from Wales, Norwich and our bedding. I’m quite pleased, it must be 11 days since I’ve done any washing. I haven’t run out of clothes, and I haven’t noticed people moving away from me in crowds. It was such a sunny day so I hung it out in the garden. This means I’m doing well on washing clothes rations.
Haroun and I went to the Brixton Farmers Market and even though I avoided all the meat and cheese, cakes etc… the range of seasonal vegetables is growing. I got my first bag of salad and purple sprouting broccoli today. A high point of the morning was the fisherman/monger from Dorset there with freshly cooked crabs. He went through how they feed them their unsold scraps and how much diesel they’d used getting them from the sea to me – its negligible, and only £2.80 for a large one. Even though I’m not eating bread, I did buy a white loaf from The
Old Post Office Bakery in Landor Road, who have a stall there. I usually get their bread from Fareshares, or the shop itself, even though we have an unbelievable amount of bakeries in Herne HIll, we always get theirs, I think they bake the best bread in South London.
I bought a DVD burner for a tenner from Nick and Winnie who had a stall today at the car boot at the Lido.
Its easy to stay away from the temptations of TV, radio, music and computer on such a beautiful day, and spend the day digging compost into a small patch for veg and taking Haroun for a bike ride in the park.
Haroun was filthy so had a bath tonight, I just can’t persuade him to have a bucket wash, which he did perfectly happily in India this summer, but I washed my hair in it, and now have 3 full buckets lined up in the bath room for flushing the loo, washing floors (unlikely so soon after last time) and cleaning the bathroom and kitchen.
My parents are staying the night, hence the change of sheets, and were so tired from a party that by the time I made chicken and leek soup, from a carcass bought at the market today they were dozing, along with Rizwan in the sitting room. I ate on my own.
Its Dot’s birthday tomorrow, so I have spent the evening making her a cushion cover from some beautiful African fabric with high heeled shoes printed on it that someone bought me from Brixton market years ago. Earlier on I mended another pair of Haroun’s trousers and two badly ripped pillow cases, that nearly made it into bike cleaning rags but are now back in use under Mum and Dad’s heads. Dot, along with my parents are a real inspiration for making presents. She has made me some brilliant things over the years. When I was a kid, Dad made our best toys, including a farm, a shop, a Noah’s arc and slide. Mum made our clothes and dressing up outfits when we were little. We still have the farm, which has survived me and my siblings, all my grown up nieces and nephews and is now used by Haroun and his friends. I’m planning to make the Batman outfit that Haroun has asked for, for his birthday next week, and hoping to find the fabric for it in charity shops this week. I wish I’d started weeks ago.
The farm my Dad built
My favourite present that Dot made me 10 years ago
Days 15, 16 and 17
The hot water was behaving better this morning, and quickly ran hot so about 5 litres of that added to yesterdays leftovers gave me nearly a whole bucket warm enough to enjoy a mornings wash and hair wash with enough left for teeth etc.
Today Haroun and I took another train, this time to Norwich. This was planned before I said I’d do this and even though the idea to cancel flickered through my head for a moment just to make my life easier and save rations, I couldn’t entertain the thought seriously, we are visiting my very good friend’s parents who are Haroun’s best friend Josie’s Grandparents – he’d be gutted it we didn’t go and so would I. I had already stuck the anticipated rations used on the train in the book at the beginning of the month, but the journey alone from Herne Hill station is using up 8 rations which for 2 days away is quite extreme and if we were doing this permanently and didn’t have the choice, I wouldn’t dream of such and extravagance I’m sure, or at least would be saved up for, for months. When we arrived in Norwich, the sun was shining and Haroun and Josie were so happy to see each other, I forgot all about rations for a moment. However, I don’t know Rebecca’s parents well and I wasn’t sure how comfortable it was going to be with the ration book thing in their house. I’m running out of spare rations so I know I’m going to have to be frugal. I have nothing to worry about, they remember rationing from the war, and are incredibly cautious themselves about saving energy, reuse everything and never throw anything away. They have the most impressive drawer of scrap paper, which I’m shown so I can write this. They gave me a bucket to save my water and seemed thoroughly entertained by the whole process. I used the kids bath water to flush the loo and only used about 8 litres of clean water all the time I was there. Rebecca’s mum Joyce showed me a book, before we left called Leftovers for Tomorrow by Marika Hanbury Tenison first published 1971. I flicked through it a pulled out a couple of recipes that I will try. Rebecca took us all out for a meal in a Waffle House, something of a family tradition and I dreaded being the picky guest, but this wasn’t some American maple syrup and bacon affair, I had potato and cauliflower curry on a wholemeal waffle (which I put down on my slices of bread ration list) and relieved that the veggie option wasn’t all aubergines red peppers and goats cheese. Rebecca’s dad makes home made bitter from a Norfolk Brewery Kit, and I don’t think I can do much better than that. The Ministry purposefully left alcohol off the list, in case no one would try the scheme, and even though I thought I would just drink alcohol brewed/made in this country I haven’t stricly stuck to that and have probably had about 1 and a half bottles worth of wine in these few weeks.
A button came off Haroun’s shirt so I sewed in on straight away with needles kept in a needle case Rebecca made her mum in primary school. I wondered if children still make needle cases in school.
On Friday we took a day trip to the sea, a lovely day out but 42 kms return (5 in the car), so with getting to and from the station etc..I’m having to stick another whole travel ration on my card. Apart from this, the day is fairly ration free and the woman in the cafe on the beach comes out to check that the order for beetroot chips and egg is correct. The kids had an ice cream and Rebecca said she can’t get used to me saying no to things, it like being with a different me. On the way back, I spotted a sign for Cromer crabs which is about my food highlight of the month, caught in pots, just off the Norfolk coast less than 30 miles away, the fishmonger convinced me they hadn’t been hoovered off the sea bed, so they must be virtually carbon neutral. I bought 2, which we shared between 4, and I wish I’d had more, they were completely delicious. Rebecca’s dad cooked us Pasta for dinner which goes into the out of season/imported category(100gms for the pasta, and even though its carrot and celery sauce, theres tinned tomoatos so I’ll put that down for 50gms)
Today, I was hoping to get another crab for my picnic in the park but they’d run out so I was left with carrot sticks and an apple. At Norwich station I desperately looked for something I could eat, but the East of England co-op there with its 1,000’s of food items had nothing un processed, I was struck by this vaste choice of crap, and wished for a Cromer Crab stall welcoming visitors to Norwich.
On the way home from Liverpool Street we dropped in on Teo’s 1st birthday, and after my carrot and apple picnic I was bloody starving. Teo’s mum Ilga is a brilliant cook and there were loads of things I could eat and I was so relieved to find carrots salad, red cabbage and little roast potatoes that I found my hand wasn’t hovering over the cheeses and saying no to cake just slid off my tongue with ease. Ilga is brilliant and has had Teo using a potty well before now, and what does she get in return for this? People think she’s strange. Teo’s dad Mark has a million brilliant ideas for more sustainable living, but my favourite one of his is this….why not put wind turbines all along the motorways, this would silence the people who complain they are ugly and noisy, and you don’t have to ruin the environment to build the infrastructure to support them, because thats been done already.
Week 2 Tally
This weeks extras are
Car and bus travel brings me in just under 1 ration so i’ll make that up to 1 for the tiny bit of choc (negligable) and the 25 grammes of cheese (1/10th) and splash of cream in Patrick’s soups.
Dishwasher in Wales I think 7 uses divided by average of 5 people
Energy wise you can have 4 dishwashes for a ration, and water wise 8 for a ration so to make it easy and account for extra washing I’ll say 8 uses, which would be 3 whole rations, divided by 5 = .6 of a ration but I’ll make that up to a whole ration to account for the bit of TV watching.
I’m still on track for
1/2 ration for internet
1 Ration for the loo flush
1 ration for Milk
1 ration for potatoes
1 ration for heating
1 ration for PC
1/2 ration for bathing, brushing teeth and hand washing
1/2 Energy to heat washing water
1/2 ration Hot drinks
1/2 ration for eggs
1/2 ration for dish washing and veg washing
1/3 ration washing machine
I’m now going to add in
1 ration for bread, and butter and sugar.
This leaves me 5 rations to use in the next two weeks. Not as bad as I had feared, but I’m still going to have to be as frugal.
Porridge again this morning but with grated apple as there was hardly any milk in the fridge
I had time this morning to clean the hall, landing and stair carpets with the hard brush again.After Wales, I’m sure I’m going to heading over target so I’m not going to waste any rations on the hoover. Its much quieter, but very physical so I needed a wash afterwards, and my slippers filled up with grit which was fairly unpleasant. So, another bucket wash, except this time the water was still running cold when the bucket was half full, so I gave up on the hot and had a really horrible cold wash, very quick and consequently lots left over for teeth and hand washing, so only 5 litres this time.
Haroun and I met up with Zoe, Celeste and Betty Blossom in Brockwell Park. We had a picnic in the secret garden, sheltering under the big yew bush from the rain. The best I could manage for low ration lunch for me was a roll with cold cooked beetroot(no butter), which wasn’t half as bad as it sounds, but the ham sandwiches the others had would have been nice and they all had chocolate. I ate an apple, Zoe assured me it was English, but it tasted a lot nicer than the ones we get at the market at the moment, so I have my doubts. The rain got worse and we were all getting cold so we walked towards Brixton, eventually catching the bus to the Ritzy for an afternoon movie. Zoe very sweetly offered to walk back home to help with my transport quota, but we took the bus.
My friend Su came over for dinner tonight. She had spent the whole day in a freezing cold studio and as soon as she sat down declared how starving she was, but she was on rations for tonight too. Leek soup made with Chicken stock, from yesterday’s chicken and a bit of white wine that’s been open in the fridge for about a month, it tasted fine, so I’m glad I hung onto that. I also made coleslaw, with a spoonful of Mayo that I nabbed off Zoe this afternoon. It was quite a relief to taste something a bit meaty after a solid week of vegetables. But I have to say, as I was grating cabbage and carrots this evening, talking to Su about rationing, I did think how lucky we are to be able to get our hands on cabbage and carrots whenever we want, and despite the fact I’m moaning a bit about limited choice, compared to most of the world, what I’m living is the good life. Su left the table full and satisfied, and thinks she might have a go at Ration Me Up. Quite a mountain of washing up with a saucepans worth of drips.
I quite often do a clothes wash on Wednesdays, but I packed so badly for Wales, that I only had the jeans I was wearing and forgot to pack anything else, so only a pair of very muddy jeans and a few tops and underwear went into the basket, not enough to fill a machine, so theres a good idea for saving energy, wear the same things day after day.
The thermos I filled up this morning is still half full and piping hot at midnight, its too late to drink half a litre of tea now, I hope its still warm in the morning.
Mum left the bath in for me again, and even though it was incredibly shallow and soapy I couldn’t bear to empty it out, I got up quickly so it was warm enough today so I washed my hair in it and flushed the loo with it. I was very very hungry at breakfast time, so maybe my appetite hasn’t shrunk. Mum and Dad dropped me and Haroun off at the station, about 10 miles between 4 people again, about a quarter of a ration I think. I’ll do a tally at the end of the week again. Water and an apple on the train. Its incredibly hard to find low ration snacks apart from fruit, especially on a train. I’m really used to snacking in between meals, and these two weeks have made me eat just at mealtimes and resist that powerful snack urge – I am naturally greedy.
Its great to be home, Rizwan has collected two buckets, our huge stock pot, a large sauce pan and a jug full of drips from the kitchen tap for me to use. Being at my brothers was really great, but now I’m home I don’t need to feel conscious about my strange behaviour any more, carting buckets around, leaving the loo unflushed, saying no to cake. Rizwan left a note about a chicken in the fridge, so I roasted it for them and piles of vegetables for me at the same time. The Kitchen floor is still sparkling. No TV, no music, no radio. After 5 days in my brothers super clean house, our carpet is looking pretty grubby, I’ll have to get that hard brush out again soon.
Haroun is almost as dirty so he has a very shallow bubble bath, and I fill all available buckets with the water afterwards and wash up with the drips (which I count)
I used my parents bath water again today, by the time I got in it was cold but the bathroom was warm, so I just got on with it. Tomorrow I’ll have a hot bucket wash, but at least, with a bath, you can save the water for a loo flush.
We had a trip planned for today, its either Raglan Castle or Big Pit Mining Museum. They both present a problem to me as its going to be another car journey and I think, even though I’ve been resisting food temptations and saving water it’s the travel short trips and the dishwasher that’ll do me in. That’s the difficult thing about coming here, it you want to do anything apart from local walks its a car trip, even to the shops. I have seen a fold up bike in the garden shed, but its all up and down round here – its not called The Valleys, for nothing. Haroun really wants to go to Big Pit. We went a year and a half ago and he was too small to go down the cage lift into the mine and he’s been dying to go – I’m pretty sure he won’t do it without me, and anyway, I’d hate to miss seeing him in his hard hat and lamp.
Big pit is 10 miles away, and my quarter share is close to a half ration. Of course I knew that transport was one of the highest culprits with carbon emissions, but Ration Me Up has put this into very sharp focus. If you are on your own in a car, a 10K return journey is 1/40th of your entire months allowance. Living in the city this doesn’t present such a problem but if you lived in the countryside, in a world of rationing, we would all have to be much more organised.
Everyone had a cup of hot chocolate in the museum cafe after going down the mine , too much milk so I had a cup of tea.
Lunch, more veg. soup and coleslaw. About half an hour after lunch, I’m realised I was still feeling really full, I think that my appetite has shrunk. When Patrick’s friends dropped round for tea, I wasn’t remotely tempted by a slice of cake, and I don’t think I have ever refused a slice of cake in my life before doing this.
The girls left today and after waving them off, we all spent more time gardening. After that hard labour I was hungry by dinner – a pile of Brussel sprouts, broccoli and a baked potato(no butter!) We didn’t watch any TV tonight, but as I walked past an Easter egg I snapped off a piece without thinking. I do so much many things without thinking, I automatically go to flush the loo, run the tap and now am slowly getting used to thinking is there any other used water available I can use.
Day Eleven – Easter Day
I used Mum and Dad’s shallow bathwater today, a bit on the cold and soapy side, and for the washing experience, I think I’d prefer my 6 litre hot bucket, but this meant I could then save it for loo flushing and hand washing later as well. It also took me right back to my childhood when all 5 of us would share the water in the morning and an incentive to getting out of bed was not being landed with the coldest and dirtiest bath full.
The first sunny day, Haroun and I sat outside and painted Easter cards. Easter or no Easter, I still had porridge made with water for breakfast, splash of milk and 1tsp of sugar. Patrick organised a fish pie for lunch. I’m not sure how to account for this fish. I cooked it and meanly kept the use of butter to a minimum, and no one seemed to notice. I gave all my prawns to Haroun, as Patrick reckoned they were the most carbon intensive element to the meal, all those prawns flown in on ice, rather than the un named white fish, UK farmed salmon and smoked haddock off cuts you can buy in a packet from the Tesco’s here. The Easter egg hunt, didn’t present the problem for me as I had anticipated and Patrick was the only one who gave me an Easter Egg which I’ll give to Rizwan when we get home, I only ate 3 mini eggs (15 grammes!). How sad to be weighing easter eggs. Haroun wanted a specific chocolate bunny and I found a 50gramme version and waited for him to say, “but I wanted that big one”, but he didn’t. I spent 2 hours digging in compost to one of Patrick’s huge veg. beds and ideas about digging up the front garden expanded to fantasising about having an allottment. At Easter cake and hot cross bun time I very miserably had an apple and a cup of tea. Leftovers for dinner, and again I overcame the powerful urge to tuck into the huge plate of cheese. 6 of us watched the original Italian Job in front of the woodburner, 3 generations of us laughing at the same things. 3 days of blog in one, it’s been hard to do this and the Wi-Fi has been down, but with writing on scraps of paper and typing this up quickly, will help counter balance all this increased TV watching.
Haroun and I went for a very long walk, away from the temptations of electrical sockets and the groaning fridge. My parents arrived in time for lunch, bearing even more goodies, more hot cross buns, biscuits and a large hunk of what’s known as Granny’s special ham. The level of temptation has just been cranked right up. We had yesterday’s soup for lunch and more coleslaw. Mum and Dad have started to go through more memories of war time rationing, 2 oz butter, lard, sugar and marg a week, they can’t remember meat but the rations were tiny. All other groceries were on a coupon system, a bit like this one where you could choose what you wanted to use your coupons on, saving up and pooling rations for special occasions. They all drew lines, 3 inches up on the inside of the bath and the whole family would share the water. I asked who monitored this, and Mum said it was up to your own conscience but there was a real sense of shared responsibility and contributing to the war effort. Dad’s parents kept an illicit pig in a shed. My grandfather was in the police force during the war and got wind of a complaint that had come into the police about strange snuffling sounds coming from a shed nearby, so quickly arranged to have the pig moved. Patrick drove to the station to pick up two of my nieces and I went along for the ride. They bought along with them the 1st Harry Potter film which we all sat down and watched, its so long, 2 and a half hours, but that will be split between 7 of us.
Dinner in the evening was cheese soufflé, which I just couldn’t resist, so now I’ve started a cheese tally, which I was hoping not to do, but 25 grammes worth is not the end of the world, but a significant proportion of the 300 grammes combined cheese/butter which makes up a ration. We all play card games after dinner which was a relief on the ration front. I’m worrying about all the washing up thats coming in and out of the dishwasher. Even though this is not what I’d choose to do, I can’t face doing washing up for 7, 3 times a day in my miserable home water saving way, so I’m just having to swallow hard and count up the washes and divide by 7 to work out the points. I’ll do that at the end of the visit.
It wet in Wales, very very wet. The hill behind my brothers house is sodden and wherever you are you can hear the sound of streams gushing, so its seems very odd to be rationing my water here as well.
I had wondered if I should bring my own bucket, but found one here under the stairs. Anther 6 litres for the usual. In between bouts rain we went out and plant seeds for Patrick’s veg garden, I’m inspired and thinking about digging up part of our front garden. We are eating the last of the leeks and carrots in his garden now, and he says that they pretty much feed themselves from late May to December. Despite the 1000’s of air miles represented in his fridge, Patrick has got incredibly green credentials. He introduced me to the notion of alternative energy when I was very young, and took me to my first CND rally when i was 13. One of the early social enterprises he set up was The Findhorn Ecovillage in 1985. So why such a low percentage of our energy comes from sustainable sources is testament to a powerful oil lobby, or just endless years of selfish short term thinking. Patrick makes the best virtually ration free lunch I’ve had in 9 days, parsnip and apple soup, with a tiny bit of cream and coleslaw with a tiny amount of mayo. I have to write down the extras in my book, but well worth it. Haroun and I managed a quick walk up the hill before torrential rain set in for the rest of the day. We took a trip to the local cinema, 5 miles journey between 3, works out at roughly 1/4 of a ration. I’m not sure where the cinema fits into the scheme of things really but it’s very full, and that makes me feel a bit better. Veg for supper which is delicious, but every time I go into the kitchen, the huge pile of hot cross buns winks at me. We watch an hour of TV in the evening. That’s the problems of staying in someone else’s home, I can’t dictate what Patrick wants to do, so even though I will have to count this for rationing, I really enjoy sitting with my brother in front of the wood burning stove, we haven’t done this in years.
Today is a rare day, I’m not working, Haroun is at school and the sun is shining. Rizwan is threatening to empty Haroun’s bath water from last night so he can have a shower. So on this lovely, leisure filled day, I wash the kitchen floor. I borrow a bucket from next door. The figures in the ration book for baths are confusing. Under water:non efficient , you can have one ¾ full bath per week whereas you can have 2 x 30litre baths a week in the efficient section. As I empty out Haorun’s very empty seeming bath, I’d say about 1/3rd full, I fill up at least 6 x 10 litre containers. I think a 30 litre bath would be utterly miserable and am much more content with my bucket system. Scrubbing the floor is very time consuming and physical, I’m on my knees with another hard brush, no radio to entertain me, but the doors and windows are open, the sun is shining and I weirdly enjoy myself. If I mopped the floor every week, I think, it would be an easy short job, but I know that I won’t..i’m not sure where the time is in life to do so much housework. The floor is so clean that everything else looks grubby so I use the rest of the water in the bath to clean the cupboards and the cooker. I never imagined that such stringent water saving would make the flat so much cleaner. The final dregs are used to clean the bath. There is still two buckets worth left for flushing the loo.
While I clean I think that I have no memory of my mum washing a floor, perhaps she did it when I was at school. She was never obsessed with cleaning, tidying, yes but, she vacuumed upstairs one week and downstairs the next. Then I start the think about my Great Aunt Elaine who used to knit very effective dishcloths out of soft cotton string, and whenever she came to stay would darn a huge pile of socks. My dad still has socks in his drawer that he’s had since I was a child. I only know from looking for socks to hang up on Christmas eve, this year Haroun hung up the same Rosslyn Park rugby sock that I used to.
Haroun and I take the train to Newport, he has a cracking picnic and I have a slightly soft English apple, they all are at this point in the season, only the Topaz variety – very expensive at Brixton farmer’s market bring much joy.
My brother Patrick picks us up from the Station, and insists that I can’t use any rations on this car trip as he is on his way back from work; his car is a hybrid and I watch the panel on the dashboard to see when the car is using petrol and when its using battery.
There’s going to be 7 of use here this Easter and he has just done the most mammoth shop at the supermarket, as I watch him unpack mountains of cheese and goodies my heart sinks….this is going to be a nightmare. He has kindly got as many UK grown things as possible. He’s a vegetarian, but I think all the veggie burger things he has bought are off limits. We have a big pile of vegetables for dinner, I just don’t have the cheese sauce.
Later on in the evening, we watch a bit of the 10 o’clock news, my first TV in a week….we both fall asleep.
Week One tally
So the tally up is not encouraging. After what i have seen as a fairly austere week, here’s the results.
I’ve use a whole ration on travel, a whole ration on out of season food, this includes the food at grahams party, sugar in porridge and those dammed baked beans. This leaves me with 17 rations and by my reckoning I’m on target for:
1 ration for internet
1 Ration for the loo flush
1 ration for Milk
1 ration for potatoes
1 ration for heating
1/2 ration for PC
1/2 ration for bathing, brushing teeth and hand washing
1/2 Energy to heat washing water
1/2 ration Hot drinks
1/2 ration for eggs
1/2 ration for dish washing and veg washing
1/3 ration washing machine
Thats 8 1/3 rations
but only If I carry on being just a frugal.
This leaves me 8 2/3rds rations for 3 more weeks.
Day Seven, end of week one
I get the offer of porridge in bed again, but decline and get tea instead. Downstairs a boiled egg and slice of toast (no butter) feels like pure luxury, as much as I like porridge, I’m sick of it. Rizwan and Haroun give me a present made purely of recycled materials, actually a diamond ring wouldn’t have affected my rations, but its a lovely present and I appreciate the spirit. Another 6 litres of water for wash teeth and hands etc…I. check my hair and its looks ok so I don’t bother washing it. I think the less you wash it, the less you need to. I don’t use Conditioner, it just makes my hair greasy quicker, if I did, I wouldn’t this month. I’ve never shampooed Haroun’s hair, it never smells, hes never had lice and its thick and shiny.
I do our first clothes wash for the week, short wash, 30degrees, and I can divide this by 3 as far as rationing goes as I’m washing for us all. The ration book has made a mistake with how to account for this so I need to check this with the Ministry. When I started this, people were concerned about how I was going to manage with the washing. This is pretty much standard machine use for us. I rarely use something only once, more like 2 or 3. I only have one pair of jeans that I really like and I can keep them going for a couple of weeks. its pointless dressing kids in clean clothes every day, and Haroun’s school sweatshirt gets mopped and picked at rather than constantly changed. My mum used to hand wash everything for 5 with only a tiny spinner to help her, she even boiled handkerchiefs in a saucepan. Ours just get stuck in the short wash. I think if we both commuted by tube, we’d double our wash.
I’m working from home, its freezing today, so I wrap up. By midday, I realise I’m shaking, so I put the fire on low in the living room. Last nights soup for lunch, plenty more.
I go by bike to Brixton to buy some materials for the Abu Dhabi job, its so rare to be out and about shopping without a child and I resist the temptation to sit in a cafe and drink coffee and eat cake.
The thermos no longer stinks, so a boiled kettle for tea for an after school visitor is saved for the next visitors who bring birthday cake. Rebecca, the baker, insists I don’t count this towards a ration, its a present, and I’m going with this. I’m so starving by now that I eat the kids leftovers.
Dot comes round later with her son Tyler to drop off cards and a present, she proudly tells me the wrapping paper and envelope are recycled. We have more soup, and roast squash, grown by Therese In Herne Hill, a totally ration free dinner. Still enough bloody soup for tomorrows lunch. for the first time this week, I’m actually full.
While I write the blog on paper,Rizwan is watching the Arsenal/Barcelona match, its very hard not to glance over now and again. I’m now going off to tally up my first frugal week to see if I can relax or see if I have to step up my efforts.
Still can’t decide about the long cycle ride, but have a mountain of porridge just in case. Cup of tea this morning which is a waste as I get distracted by Haroun waking up and forget about it, until its cold. Torrential rain makes my mind up and I go by tube. I swear I’m much smellier on arrival than had I cycled.
At lunch we have a long discussion about eating fish and its ration implications. There’s no mention of fish in the ration book, but neither is there of crisps, chocolates, biscuits and cakes which I’m assuming, along with all processed foods are off limits. Kierion puts up such a sold argument that fish should be allowed (no feeding, comes here by boat) that I go for fish with chips instead of fried egg. I’ll have to check with the Ministry. Kierion and Dot are amazed by the 13 eggs a month per ration and then we go on about who uses up more energy, battery or free range.
I’ve been feeling increasingly sick over the last few days, and wondered if its something to do with my change in diet, or perhaps eating considerably less than I’m used to. I hope that lunch will help, but it doesn’t, and by the time I get to my friends’ house later to look after their kids I throw up. Haroun and I leave early which upsets him, so he gets an hour of Pirates of the Carribean on my computer, while I lie on the sofa with a hot water botttle, which of course uses up a whole kettle worth of water, a small sacrifice for the relief it brings me. I’m not sure if I should count the DVD watching or not, I love the film and end up snuggled under a blanked with him watching it too. Its his first DVD since rationing began even though I’m not imposing it on him.
Rizwan comes home and makes me leek and potato soup with the stock from a chicken carcass I bought from the farmers market. I’m very pleased with this idea, bones don’t feature on the ration book, and as a waste product of a very high energy use food should be considered positively positive and I”m getting precious little protein in my diet.
Its my birthday tomorrow and Rizwan has just asked if I want porridge in bed. How depressing!
A fairly uneventful low ration use day. Another 6 litres of water, included washing hair and enough left over do teeth etc again. I’m reminded of my friend Emma who told me how irritated she used to be by her mother collecting the cold water from the hot tap in a bucket while waiting for the hot to come and flushing to loo with it. She now begrudgingly concedes its a good idea.
Cycled to work, no one bought and milk so no one had a cuppa all day. Let down by the canteen at work and had baked potato, no butter and baked beans, about half a tins worth. When I get home and check the weight of a tin, I’m appalled to see that a miserable spoonful of dried out beans amounts to nearly 1/80th of my months rations, which is really galling. Rizwan is fixing a broken cup and his ink pen which he has had for at least 5 years; despite his slagging me off as totalitarian, advocating rationing for all, he’s naturally resourceful and doing this would be a breeze for him.
Go out for a work related event, that runs so late that instead of staying to eat, i leave for home. One of the organisers won’t take no for an answer and kindly thrusts a take away into my hands. Its probably a rations worth, but I figure Rizwan can have it for lunch. On the way through Elephant and Castle underpass, 2 homeless men ask me for some change. I ask them if they want a hot meal, which they do so I hand it over. I’m reminded how much 40 rations really is, on top of a dry flat, and a warm bed. One of them wants to know if I believe in God and is sad for me when I tell him I don’t. After a short chat, they seem more content that I do have some beliefs, even if not religious.
No radio at night is really tough and in its place I go to bed worrying about whether I will have the energy to cycle to Swiss Cottage again in the morning.
Another planned trip out of the neighbourhood threatens my ability to stick within my 40 rations. Haroun and I get the bus to Brockley and Dot picks us up and 5 of us drive to Gravesend – about 20 miles. I’m still unhappy and question that a full car fares better with this scheme then the train. I got rid of my car 10 years ago, and don’t miss it. We manage with the bikes, trains and kind family and friends picking us up from stations. I’m no transport angel though, we went to India last summer. I’m also flying to Abu Dhabi at the end of next month for work, so even though its officially outside my ration quota, I’m feeling a real hypocrite. Anyway, John who we spend the day with, works in the housing/building world and whose specialisation is making buildings more energy efficient, is sure the book doesn’t take in to consideration the heavy emissions impact of building the road system. He also says the minute a car gets stuck in traffic it becomes much more inefficient and also looses out to train travel over long distances. This is what I want to hear. We were stuck in a huge tail back on the South Circular outside Lee only to find a huge ring of traffic cones a lane wide encircling a major roundabout with no roadworks in sight. Very. very, very stupid.
For lunch, John and Diana have produced a fantastic meal and I eat just the juice and veg from two stews – all seasonal, home made ice cream will count against my dairy quota and a couple of chocolates against my imported food ration. I’m finding constantly having to explain my behaviour a bit tiring and not sure if picking meat out of a stew is very meaningful really. Today everyone is very understanding and no one takes the piss. Dot is going to try a month and John wants a copy. Travel and food aside, the remainder of the day must count as one of those “ration free activities for a happier future”
When we get home, Rizwan has cooked black eyed peas in the pressure cooker with rice. This normally very cheap and frugal meal is ration heavy, they are all imported goods and my use of non seasonal quote has risen with all this socialising.
Mountain of washing up with cold water. I used to teach a Syrian woman English in Sheffield and she would always wash her dishes with cold water, no running tap, loads of soap and then rinse under a very slow tap, using very little water and no fuel, obviously. I see no reason not to carry on like this after I finish this month, cold water is a bit miserable, but when was washing up supposed to be fun anyway? At first glance at the ration book, you can use a water efficient dishwasher 25 times a month for one ration, which seems great, if you use one, but at second glance in the energy section, one use of the dishwasher per week uses up 1 ration, so I’m delighted with my misery method. We have applied for a water meter to be fitted so I’m expecting our water bill to drop.
Use the last of Haroun’s old bath water from 3 days ago to flush the loo. I might even wash the floor after his next bath.
All this careful water use reminded me of something I read in Bones of The Master, a Journey into Secret Mongolia, by George Crane, so I found the passage and here it is “We drank only boiled water, served scalding hot. Water was never wasted. The hot water remaining in the thermoses at day’s end was used to wash hands. The hand water was poured into another, larger basin for washing feet. The foot and hand water was collected in a bucket and used in the morning to mop the floors”. I’m afraid to say, I rarely mop the kitchen floor, but if I get the time this week….I also have to buy a new tap for the kitchen which has been dripping for ages. I have been collecting the drips,and24 hours of drips fills a large saucepan which i use for drinking and washing up with. All this seems fairly futile when I think of all the 1,000,000’s of gallons leaking out of Thames Water’s ancient system.
More porridge, and no tea this morning after yesterdays rancid water episode. I brush the stair, landing and hall carpet with a hard brush which takes about half an hour but I’m dammed if I’m going to waste precious rations on hoovering.(1 hour a week for the month = 1 ration), its excellent exercise for my feeble upper arm, and does a much better job of cleaning our horrible cream carpets. friend Kierion suggests this fills the air with more dust, but no more so than living on a main road in London.
Another 6 litres of water for a bucket wash, enough left for teeth and hand for the day. I need more buckets as the remains of Harouns bath is filling our only one so I use a big sauce pan for my wash. Wash the bath and sink with left overs. All this boring domestic detail is a bit embarrassing and revealing, but thats what this ration scheme is all about.
I got the sewing machine out today to take up an old cloak for a fancy dress party Haroun was going to, and while I was at it, patched up 3 holes in his jeans which means they should now last until he grows out of them. The ration book doesn’t mention sewing machine use so i’ll need to check with the Ministry. My parents both grew up during the 2nd World War and took rationing for granted. Their attitude of make do and mend permeated my childhood, making use of every scrap of food, recycling, mending everything and making our christmas and Birthday presents . Mum used to “sides to middle” the sheets when they wore out in the centre. In the ration book, one cotton T-shirt takes up 3 rations, so I dread to think how much a new king size sheet would take up, cotton manufacture uses a huge ammount of water.
I resisted the temptation of home made sausage rolls at Pearl’s birthday party, but Jane insisted that a slice of birthday cake wouldn’t be using up my rations, as I hadn’t bought or made it. It was delicious, thanks Lucy. I have marked it down in the back of my ration book though, Janes argument can’t work unless everyone is rationing. I also went out to a Grown up Birthday party in the evening and ate the fantastic food there, leaving the cheese alone. If we were all rationed, we’d save up rations for birthday cakes and equally contribute rations for any kind of get together. Its Harouns birthday during this rationing period, so I’m saving up butter and eggs for his cake.
Its an uncharacteristically quiet morning, Haroun and Rizwan are both still asleep at 6.30 Our bedroom is at the back of the flat overlooking a railway line with a bank of trees. Normally I’d stick on the radio but I can’t, so I lie there listening to the birds singing and squabbling, the trains rumble by and the almost permanent swelling and dipping of roaring planes overhead.
I spent too much time on the internet and computer writing this blog, so I get up and sit looking out over the garden and start writing on scraps of paper.
Trying to stick to my ration allowance is becoming fairly obsessional, it feels a bit like a diet, which is something I’ve never managed to do for more than a day or two, but I’m competitive and the desire to make this work is strong, and weighing up what energy to use what to save, measuring out water as well as food and it not being about calories but how much water, fuel were used in getting this food to me is much more motivating. The Ration Me Up project is a brilliant and really simple idea. It makes you consider and think about about almost every thing you do, but is playful and not remotely po-faced. It also reminds you that enjoying your life isn’t all about consumption and has two pages at the back of the book with “Ration free activities for a happier future” with some suggestions such as Keep Bees, Write a Poem, play a game…they’ve left space for you to put in your own ideas.
The Ration book says that ” your carbon ration is based on an annual global per capita emission allowance of 1.15 tonnes of CO2e. This represents your fair share of the right to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”. I’m very aware that if the majority of the world had access to these 40 rations worth, they wouldn’t believe their luck.
There’s still enough water left over in the bucket from yesterdays wash to have a quick wash, and brush teeth. Porridge, with a tea spoon of suger,(registered ammount in back of ration book to tally up later) and a tiny splash of milk (the same). I’ve not had a cup of tea yet, but I’m going to crack soon.
After much umming and ahhing, I cycle up to Swiss Cottage to work after dropping Haroun off at school. This turns into one of those “Ration Free Activities”. Its a beautiful morning, I chat to lots of cyclists along the route, go through 5 parks, and see the 4 pelicans in St. James’ Park. Ration me up says, you can do 400kms on a bike for 1 ration, which was very dissapointing, until I found out that if you have a 2nd hand bike, the carbon used in its manufacture has been paid off by the first owners use of it. My bike was lent to us by our lovely next door neighbours Phil and Becca when their children became too big to go on it, so I’m off the hook.
I spend the morning in a workshop, working for my best friend Dot, I’m on my own, but I don’t listen to the radio as I would have done before, and don’t really miss it, i think I might have got more done. I leave one bank of lights switched off, but can’t do what I’m doing properly, so switch back on. This is work anyway and not affecting my rations. We have lunch in a cafe, and I feel like a freak asking for a Baked potato without butter – have to eat into my non-seasonal food ration (half a kilo = 1 ration). I try and buy some fruit at a stall, but there’s nothing that was grown here.
Cycle back like a demon to pick up Haroun on time from School. Meet Clare who gives me the Ministry Of Trying to Do Something About It official verdict, I can swap my work related bike ride today for a leisure trip tonight on the tube.
Meet up with friend Rebecca and her two children in Brockwell Park. They come back to eat. I finally put the kettle on for a cup of tea. Ration book says 2 boils a day, this I imagine is 2 full kettles which I would never do unless making a big pot any way. I put the rest of the water in a thermos so I can top up my tea bag later. The thermos wasn’t washed properly last time so my 3rd cup of tea tastes like rancid old soup. I manage to wash up supper for 2 adults and 3 children and clean up on about an 8th of a sink of cold water. Its a fine art. The kids share a bath, which I keep and wash in later and wash my hair. The rest is left there and will flush the loo and clean the bathroom tomorrow. After the bath, the kids always run around naked dancing to loud music. Half an hour of stereo a day is 1 ration so I get out my old wind up record playing and the kids dance to old Ink Spots 78’s. I’d forgotten all about this until today.
I head to West London with Karen to Rachel’s birthday meal in a Greek Restaurant. I’ve already eaten the rest of the Parsnip soup so don’t eat. Its strange, but it doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of the evening in the slightest apart from Karen sitting, like the devil on my shoulder encouraging me to cheat. Its also a lot cheaper.
The day started pretty much the same as usual, far too early with an enthusiastic 5 year old in our bed, but a slight feeling of dread…I have to cut out the coupons in my ration book and fill in the things that I know I have already used up even before the month begins, I think I might be 50% down before I even get out of bed. My usual first action of the day is reaching down to switch on the radio, but with half an hour of radio a day constituting 1/40th of my monthly allowance, I don’t.
Breakfast…. Porridge and an apple (no rations, as grown in Britain) and a glass of water – seeing as drinking water automatically takes up another 40th, I might as well take advantage, and give my body a break from the endless cups of tea I drink daily. I then calculate that the two trips by train I am taking with Haroun(5) this easter holiday; south East Wales and Norwich…plus the use of fridge and lighting the flat has tipped over 50% to 21/40 so rest of morning is unbelievably frugal. I have a wash in the bath fulling a bucket with 6 litres of warm water. I have been trained in the art of bucket washing by my Pakistani partner, who is gloating that he’s miles ahead of me with his entire childhood washing like this. You can have a really good and thorough wash with half a bucket (5 litres) and today there is about a quarter left over enough for hand washing and teeth brushing for the rest of the day. I switch off the livebox for the internet, partner again gloats that he suggested doing this months ago. Wash up mountain of pots and dishes with half a sink of cold water. I have put scraps of paper up all over the flat so I can make a note of loo flushings, hand washing, washing up etc…(wash your hands twice a day, every day for a month and thats another ration, 41 loo flushes on the half flush another ration).Morning same as normal, except all this obsessive water measuring makes me drop Haroun off late for school for the first time.
Cycle to work, in Elephant and Castle. According to Clare Patey, the artist who came up with the Ration Me Up project, and now my ration Guru, the ration book doesn’t include anything to do with work, so I could have taken the train, but its actually quicker by bike and its how I go anyway so I’m going to check to see if I can store up work trips to save rations so I can eat something with butter on it.(300gs per month = 1 ration!)
I first came across this Ration Book after a very annoying talk at the Royal Festival Hall with artists who had been on the Cape Farewell expeditions. Basically, artists go on journeys with scientists to the arctic on a beautiful sailing ship, witness the effects of global warming and then come back and make work in response to this experience. What really irritated me about this was all the artists on the panel were really adamant that they didn’t want their work to be political, as somehow this would sully their emotional response to the experience and be percieved as propaganda! One of them implied that theRainbow warrior was old hat. I bumped into Clare and while we were grumbling about this hideous apolitical stance, I suggested that the only way to change behaviour around consumption was rationing. Within seconds she whipped out her beautiful ration book… and now here I am, counting loo flushes, deciding what I can and can’t do this month, and realising that even though I consider myself as environmentally fairly responsible, this project is pointing out that I’m not and there is so much I take for granted.I don’t want to spend too much time writing this as I can only use half an hour a day on the computer (1 ration) and 1 hour a day on the internet.
Had a conversation with friend Karen, trying to decide if I can spare the ration to travel to West London to celebrate Rachel’s birthday. I’m working in swiss cottage tomorrow, and maybe if I cycle there, I can swap that with a ration free tube journey in the evening. I’ll have to check with my Ration Book Guru. As I prattle on about only being able to eat food Grown in Britain to keep my rations low, she says I’m sounding like a member of the BNP.
On way back from work, drop in at Fareshares where I do a shop each week. Its a fantastic vegan wholefood co-op run entirely by volunteers. I’m neither a vegan, nor a vegetarian but it sells most things we eat. The first time I went there there was a scrap of paper stuck on the wall saying “this is not a shop, its an exercise in community” You take your own bags, measure food out from bins, weigh and write costs down on scraps of paper which they provide, add up yourself and then pay. the whole thing operates on trust. Its a bargain and the best shopping experience. Lizzie and Tricia are on duty on Thursdays are very encouraging. I’ll not be eating meat this month anyway; 150gms of Beef takes up another 1/40th. Until I read the ration book, I hadn’t quite understood the ammount of energy going into meat production.
Parsnip soup cooked in a pressure cooker for supper. Haroun turns his nose up at it. Its delicious and I’ve made enough for days.
Sitting under a blanket, heating off, feeling very cosy. With no music, radio or TV on I can hear the sounds of traffic roaring up and down Croxted Road, something that I don’t usually notice. I’m not going to miss TV too much, I only fell asleep last time I watched it anyway.
Ration Me Up Blog
Local resident directed by the Ministry of Trying to Do Something About it to live on a 10th of the carbon rations used by the average person
|From March 24th, local film-maker Polly Nash will spend a month living within an allowance of 1.15 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – just a 10th of what the average person in the U.K. uses. As she adjusts to a more sustainable way of living, she will blog about what that life looks like – how much change is required, what’s good, what’s hard, what choices she has to make.
“I think I’m going to be heading back to the 1940s: pressure cooking, using buckets, weighing food, airing clothes, extra jumpers and reading books under blankets.“
- Polly Nash
She will be living according to the “Ration Me Up” book , created by local artist Clare Patey, working as The Ministry of Trying to Do Something About It.
The book is encourages people to think about their daily activities and is an excellent source of information about the carbon cost of a huge range of activities, from buying socks or taking a train journey. There is also a section for activities which have no carbon footprint. One month’s rations is 40 coupons. There is a section for saving rations for more carbon-intensive activities, e.g. one return flight Heathrow to New York is 344 rations and one new pair of jeans is 100 rations.
“You might even find that consuming less opens a whole new world of possibilities.” said one Ministry source.
Clare worked with Dr Victoria Johnson from the New Economic Foundation to determine, if divided equally amongst all people in the world, what each person’s carbon allowance is. All of the calculations are based on an assumed target of an 80 per cent reduction of current emissions by OECD nations by 2050 – widely accepted as the least we need to achieve in order to halt dangerous runaway climate change.
“Whilst small actions can lead to change, our ration book shows that a significant shift in the way we live our lives and reducing the sheer amount of stuff we consume is needed. Ration Me Up shows you your fair share of the world’s resources, revealing just how simple it is to minimise your impact on the planet.”
- The Minister in Charge, Clare Patey
The blog will be launched 8pm 24 March at Herne Hill Green Drinks at the Prince Regent. Clare Patey will give a short talk about the project and Polly Nash will discuss her thoughts and preparations for the coming month. Clare will have twenty ration books to give out.
- An equitable carbon allowance per person is currently 1.15 tonnes a year.
- In Britain, the average person emits 8.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
- In Bangladesh, the average person emits 0.3 tonnes
Follow Polly as she battles to do the right thing at www.hernehillcan.org/rationmeup.
8pm, 24 March 24 2010
The Prince Regent
69 Dulwich Road
Herne Hill SE24 0NJ
Polly Nash is a film maker, working through Spectacle (www.spectacle.co.uk) and part time senior lecturer at The London College of Communication. Most recently she has made Outside The Law:Stories from Guantanamo, with writer Andy Worthington, a 75 minute documentary which tells the story of Guantánamo including sections on extraordinary rendition and secret prisons.
Clare Patey is an environmental artist whose previous works include: Director of The Museum Of, Artistic director of Feast (LIFT), Curator of Feast on the Bridge (Thames Festival), Production Designer Human Footprint (Channel 4), Curator of Sheds and Beds (The South Bank Centre) and many other commissions including for Home Live Art, Friends of the Earth, Platform and LIFT.
The Ministry of Trying to Do Something About It was established in 2009 and has a ministerial remit to encourage individual and collective action in response to the current climate crisis. Ration Me Up is their first project and is commissioned by nef http://theministryoftryingtodosomethingaboutit.wordpress.com/
nef (the new economics foundation) is an independent think-and-do tank. http://www.neweconomics.org
Herne Hill Climate Action Network is a community of people working together to reduce carbon emissions. www.hernehillcan.org